Do I Owe Free Hugs Guy a Hug at Schenectady County Summer Night?

The summer season is fast approaching, which means everyone is about to see a whole lot of the Two Buttons Deep squad at events all throughout the Capital Region. And when we recently reconfirmed our media sponsorship for Schenectady County Summer Night coming up on July 12, some hazy memories from last summer resurfaced in my brain, and ever since, there’s been something I’ve been meaning to get off my chest.

I think I need to return to Summer Night in 2019 and…find Free Hugs guy. Not just find him, though, hug him. Yeah, I said it.

Last year at the event, I was just minutes away from taking a trip to Urgent Care for some bizarre and unbearable eye pain. And in the midst of my discomfort, I rejected a free hug from who’s now known to us as Free Hugs guy. Makes sense, right? Well, not to everyone. Jack publicly SHAMED ME for rejecting said hug, even though he knew I was uncomfortable enough being on camera all night in so much pain. But yes, Jack somehow felt in his heart that I owed this sweaty, overly enthusiastic dancing man a hug. I disagreed, clearly, and then we got this really good GIF out of it –so that part was good for the story at least.

Now, almost a year later, I’m starting to feel the guilt set in and I think my mission during this year’s video is that I need to go find Free Hugs guy and give him a hug. I look at that GIF and wonder, did I really hurt Free Hugs guy’s feelings? Am I complete and total bitch for not accepting a free hug, when in fact even though hugs are always free, they are almost always great and heartwarming? There’s a lot going on in my head right now and I have to consider doing the right thing and having myself a sweaty, groovy and long-awaited hug of a lifetime.

What do you think, guys? Do I need to take the road to redemption? Stay tuned and feel free to chime in here –we might need to take this one to the polls and see if I really need to put myself up to this. I’m down for whatever…almost.

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1 Comment

  1. Marty

    This is a fascinating post because it’s easy to see the moment from all sides. Nobody deserves to be publicly shamed for a split-second decision, and you certainly weren’t required to hug the man just because he was offering. That said, his feelings were definitely hurt because how couldn’t they be? A lot of decisions and actions led to him being in that shirt at that location at precisely the right time to offer a hug to someone he admires. When that moment finally came, all he got was rejection followed by a quiet walk back to the car. When you were publicly shamed (which wasn’t called for at all), things were made even worse for him. His private moment of disappointment and embarrassment was held up for all the world to see. For you it was a minor blip of bad press, but it became his identity for a time. He became the “sweaty, overly enthusiastic dancing man” and had to pretend to laugh it off. He’s probably a really cool guy (he has to be to be willing to put himself out there like that), and maybe he was able to shrug it off, but it certainly wasn’t a good experience.

    As for what you’re required to do, the answer is nothing. He’s living his life and you’re living yours, and neither of you owes the other anything. The key is that if you do have regrets, and you do feel any amount of guilt, the opportunity to turn that around is rare and wonderful. If you could find him (and that’s a big if), and if you could hug him in a way that makes him feel validated at a level that’s exactly the opposite of the rejection he felt before, both of you could come away feeling absolutely fantastic. You may think of it as giving him something, but you’ll find that you’re getting just as much back. And regardless of the outcome, if you really try to right a wrong, you’ll feel a lot better about it whenever you look back on that brief moment of your life.

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